Electronica: Good to be back

  • November 21, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Steve Rogerson reflects on his trip last week to Electronica in Munich.

After four long years, it was good to be back in Munich for the return of the Electronica trade show. And this flagship event for the electronics industry did not disappoint.

OK, it was a little smaller than we were used to, but it still had over 2100 exhibitors, compared with more than 3100 last time in 2018, across 14 halls, and yes it was spread out to disguise a little the drop in numbers. Most of the absentees were from the Far East. And even though some Chinese companies had their wares on show, the big block pavilions from China, Taiwan and others were notably missing.

We all knew this was a lingering effect of Covid, but Gunther Kegel, president of ZVEI, the German association of the electronics and digital industry, summed it up: “Countries such as China are still pushing a zero-Covid policy.”

Gunther is also CEO of Pepperl+Fuchs, and he said that for 18 months not one of its Germany-based managers had visited the company’s Chinese operations because it was “basically impossible”.

That said, some Chinese companies did make the event and hopefully the problems there will be sorted soon. This though did not detract from Electronica’s international flavour with around two-thirds of the exhibitors being from outside Germany. And the final visitor count was expected to top 70,000 by the end of the fourth day. This is only 14 per cent down on the 2018 figure, and more than half of those who came were also from outside Germany.

Companies that exhibited were well pleased with what they saw and thought the industry was showing signs of getting back to normal. Take Digi for example. Andreas Burghart, Digi’s principal IoT technology manager, said the show was not just busy but he saw people “at last starting to talk about new projects again”.

Marco Argenton, Telit vice president, added: “The show is really busy. We have had back-to-back meetings starting from the first day. We are seeing a variety of different use cases.”

Raquel Arribas: “It is like Embedded World but bigger.”

And Raquel Arribas, marketing manager at Ignion, said: “This is our first time at the show, and it is big. It is very big. It is like Embedded World but bigger.”

This was Ignion’s first showing of its updated Antenna Intelligent Cloud, launched last week.

“This shows the designers where to locate the antennas on the PCB,” said Arribas. “We have uploaded thousands of designs. We offer this service for free and you can get the design in less than 24 hours. It would normally take up to a week.”

The service was first announced in March but only created reports for one antenna, but now can handle up to five antennas.

Charlotte Rubin, vice president at Quectel, said: “This show has been extremely busy. There are some countries opening up for more travel. We got to see a lot of customers that we haven’t seen for a while.”

So the show is back, and now hopefully returning to its every-two-years schedule; the dates for November 2024 have already been announced. Next year will feel more normal with the early Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January followed by the usual Winter dates for Mobile Wolrd Congress in Barcelona and Embedded World in Nuremberg. Also next year Electronica plans to have its Chinese show in Shanghai in April. Will that happen? Hopefully, but there are political hurdles still to overcome.

Fingers crossed that this successful Electronica marks the start of not necessarily a new beginning but maybe at least picking up where we left off.